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2004-06-08

Remembering the Dead: Reagan Foreign Policy From the Target End

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We continue our week-long series "Remembering the Dead" focusing on the policies of Reagan’s administration. The history of his 8 years in power represented one of the most bloody eras in the history of the Western hemisphere as Washington funneled money, weapons and other supplies to right wing death squads. We look at Reagan’s foreign policy in Central America from the target end with former Nicaraguan foreign minister Fr. Miguel D’Escoto, congressional medal of honor winner Charlie Litkey and veteran investigate journalist Allan Nairn.

Memorial services for former president Ronald Reagan continue today, as thousands of people file into his presidential library to pay their respects. Yesterday, at the close of a brief family ceremony at the library, Nancy Reagan touched her cheek to the flag-draped casket, began to cry, and was embraced tightly by her daughter, Patti Davis. A band played "Hail to the Chief" and flags at half-staff gently waved under an overcast sky as eight armed forces members removed the casket from the hearse and placed it in the library rotunda before the service. Meanwhile, Reagan’s office announced that former President George H.W. Bush, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney will join current President Bush in eulogizing Ronald Reagan at his funeral service Friday. But as the tributes and memorials dominate the US media and Reagan is remembered as "The Great Communicator" and the man who won the Cold War, for many in Central America, Ronald Reagan is being remembered very differently.

Today on the program, we continue our week-long series "Remembering the Dead." We’ll look at Reagan’s legacy as seen from the target end. The 8 years Reagan was in office represented one of the most bloody eras in the history of the Western hemisphere, as Washington funneled money, weapons and other supplies to right wing death squads. And the death toll was staggering–more than 70,000 political killings in El Salvador, more than 100,000 in Guatemala, 30,000 killed in the contra war in Nicaragua. In Washington, the forces carrying out the violence were called "freedom fighters." This is how Ronald Reagan described the Contras in Nicaragua: "They are our brothers, these freedom fighters and we owe them our help. They are the moral equal of our founding fathers."


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